Saturday, July 5, 2014

Taxi to 52nd Street and 8th Avenue

Hey guys, Taxi Dude signing on here for NYC Craziest Taxi Stories. Today was a late June Friday night and I was surprised about how busy the city was for a summer weekend night. Normally many Manhattan residents will leave the city for the Hamptons or other vacation destinations, making for a quiet city. More than likely July and August will be deader than June. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, the same pattern was repeated last year and the year before.

There was quite a list of tourists who make up for the vacuum in the city residents departing. My first destination was the Brooklyn Motor Inn which is right near the Battery Tunnel in Brooklyn. The two passengers I had for this one were less than savory, in fact the woman looked like a street hooker and the man a redneck construction man. I made sure not to ask too many questions I just drove them. From here I went straight into the Battery Tunnel to Manhattan. This time of year in Manhattan it's quite a different vibe from the gruff people who inhabit NYC during the normal year. They are friendly, a bit slower or more leisurely and looking for fun because its tourist season. I got started early this Friday afternoon and had few fares. One of the first was a group of studly masculine looking gay men on vacation from down around the Financial District. I remarked to them about the traffic around the Holland Tunnel headed up 6th Avenue. They told me they were in town for the Pride events meaning the gay pride parade. Assumption proven correct. We made some more smalltalk as I took them to a location in Chelsea, 17th and 7th Avenue, which is a pretty gay area. Don't ask, don't tell, I just want the money. They paid me and left a big tip total was $18. 
For awhile this afternoon it was tough to find somebody. I drove around empty. The weather was gorgeous. Next up I had a Korean woman who owned an ethnic restaurant. I took her downtown from Home Depot. She was stocking up on paper towels and some other restaurant products. Her and I had a chat about mundane stuff like taxi rides and her residing in NYC and also the differences between Korean and Chinese food. This one was a real talker.
Eventually I was downtown and got a business fat man near Wall Street going to midtown, 48th Street and 8th Avenue. Traffic was murder during daytime which was surprising for a summer Friday. It may have been due to the fact that people were driving through or out of NYC or due to construction. After him, I had a well-off European tourist lady from Germany stop me and ask for JFK which was just great, because during the summertime if you wanna make bank you’ve got to take everyone. I drove her across Central Park and down Second Avenue. After checking traffic on my phone, I took the surface streets and passed on the highway. This means we took the Queensboro Bridge at 59th onto Queens Boulevard. It was an awkward ride because the German lady didn't really seem to be interested in a conversation which is not really the case most of the time. I clammed up and did my job, occasionally checking my cell phone for text messages as I drove in a bit of stop and go traffic. All total it took me about 1 hour to get to JFK. Profits $52 fare plus $18 tip.

The lot at JFK was drained and it was a short wait due to the fact that my arrival was around shift change of 5pm. The dispatcher sent me to Terminal 4 where I picked up an interesting English gent who worked in the film industry. Traffic was slammed on the way back too. The English gent was really cool laid back guy who said he was on his way to meet with Liam Neeson about a project in pre-production. Over the hour that were stop-and-go in Queens and Brooklyn backstreets, he told me all about some projects that he had worked on including Gladiator and War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise. His job was a combination of writing and directing – reworking a script so its a better movie. He told me all about how certain actors or actresses had some pretty big pull on movie projects and they had to work with directors and other film personal that they trusted especially if they are A-list because they know the film is getting funded because of their presence in the billing. Some of his favorite stars to work with are Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio and Brad Pitt. He remarked that Tom Cruise is polite to his coworkers and always greets everyone he sees, even the extras, and buys parting gifts for them. He related that some of the worst people to work with are the up-and-comers because they want to push to get the most billing in the project. Slowly I was winding my way through the worst neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, due the fact that we were taking the back way through Atlantic Value and Broadway. Finally we reach Bushwick, then Williamsburg and crossed over into the East Village. He seemed to be doing extremely well and had just come back from a trip to Ibiza. We stopped at his place on 8th Street. Total $80 for the fare, tip, and an illegal cigarette smoke.
After I dropped the film guy off in the village I got a nobody going to the East Village. From there I got a young Asian male going to Broadway and 27th Street. Then immediately after that I got another young Asian male taking me back to 52nd and 8th Avenue. At some point I got a regular dude going down 5th Avenue then I got two finance douche-bags taking me to the UES. They were drunk in the afternoon and being the typical obnoxious Manhattan types halfway involving me in the conversations that were plagued with disrespect for their clients, women, me, or whoever. I dumped them fast on 1st Avenue and 66th. Then I got an Asian paraplegic in a wheelchair going to 87th and York. Things were now moving pretty fast money-wise after a few dry spells. From here, I got 1 intra-UES trip, then I got a trip from York Avenue to Times Square. That tends to be an old-school, old money New York area – and these passengers were native NYers. They were going to the Broadway district, basically 52nd and Broadway which is a half block from the 52nd and 8th Avenue location. I was careful to be nice to them because they were of course middle-aged old school NY types – the ones who could blow up if you did something wrong. Luckily this trip went off without a hitch. Later on, I got two other gays going right to 52nd and 8th again that was quite a hot destination tonight. They were discussing how one of their exes was living in Chelsea but then moved up here to Hells Kitchen area. Chelsea and Hells Kitchen are basically the gay capitals of the USA.
Nighttime has fallen around this time which was about 8 or so. First off I had a redhead young girl wearing tight jeans headed from the UES to the Village. She said nothing. Next up, I got an attractive chick wearing a black mini-dress. She made eye contact when she got into my car and of course afterward I asked her where she was from and how her night was going? She was a palish girl from Sao Paulo with an accent. Our conversation didn't go very far. I dropped her off at 27th and 11 Avenue at a hotel bar. From here I went south on 11th Avenue and picked up a group of say-nothings and took them to Korea-town at 32nd. Then after this I had a funny encounter with an American girl who just got done with a date. She stopped me on 14th Street and argued with the male half of the date who begrudgingly let her go – a situation like this is of course pretty common. I figured she would be chitchatting with her friends during the ride on her cell phone and she did. She was complaining about the guy who had not paid for the entire date, which I believe the total was about $260 – it can be pretty steep to go on a date in NYC. She said that he had paid only $100 and let her pick up the tab for the rest. From the gist of the conversation I got that impression that she ended the date because he let her offer her debit card for the last part of the date which was a comedy show. Women can be so nit-picky about such things – in my opinion, looking for any reason to get your goat and be a little bit difficult in situations like that! Not fun. Anyhow, with my cab driving job I get the inside scoop on a woman’s mind. You will never believe where I dropped her off, 52nd Street and 8th Avenue!
Later on into the night, was when people go to and from night clubs, bars, and shows on the weekend. This time can be a little more intense to deal with because people can be drunk or a bit more rambunctious. Tonight was not so bad. First off I had a middle-aged village lady. Then around the mid 50's I picked up an older couple from Indiana. I could tell right away they were tourists from the non-NY accent. They were from West Lafayette, Indiana and the male half was a teacher at Purdue University. I took them to the Indigo Hotel in downtown Brooklyn. We had a discussion about Purdue University and how it was a big school and focused on engineering and agriculture. Normally the undergraduate students are not as focused as the grad students. I had remarked that the students at my college were drunk half the time and it was not really a serious time in their lives, whereas the graduate and PhD students were more focused. After making my way back to the city, I got two groups of Swedish people. The first was a double date of couples wearing formal wear. They were going to a club on the West Side Highway and Spring Street. Waiting outside were two other Swedish men. I spoke with both groups. After dropping them a short distance I picked up two supposed lesbians who were going to upper Harlem. They fell asleep on the ride. One of them was large and in charge and was the “man” of the couple. These types of rides are always a bit awkward because I am the odd man out. The lesbos fell asleep and I took them to Frederick Douglas and 153rd. In order to get to 153rd from the west side you need to go up underneath the bridge that leads to the Bronx since Manhattan is so hilly at this location. After this I went up Harlem Drive then hit I 95 and back down to the West Side. After the dykes I got a cute Russian girl who was going to Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. She had a girl next door type body and was wearing jeans and a T and was sexy as hell. She was none too interested in chitchatting with me being that her boyfriend was waiting on the other end of the ride. Her girl friend negotiated a flat rate, which was probably a little less than the meter to Manhattan Beach, which is near Coney Island. When we arrived at her house it was a huge multi-million dollar place. Her parents must've been doing really well. She skipped out of the cab and I raced back to Manhattan via the Belt Parkway. It was almost closing time for my taxi shift. My last fare was a couple who led me into Fort Greene, then I headed back to the taxi garage in Downtown Brooklyn to close out a pretty mundane summer night shift.